BC Poetry 2018: "East and West" by Laura Ritland (Véhicule Press)

Summer Parties
You do not know the way
past the empty electricity station,
dark cypress, maladroit laneway van,
which would lead you to those voices,

but you could discover the house
if you’d like. Open the gate, hop the fence,
take a hypothetical wine with strangers
on that provision of lawn and light.

And even if they would not know you,
even if you would have travelled so far
to encounter the stranger of yourself,
it is anywhere better than being here,

tonight, at your desk, with the indifference
of unopened books and the radio’s paper voice
talking of tragedies in the next-door room.
If you’ve been looking for a song

strong enough to guide you,
prop open the window, wedge
apart the back door. Throw a strip of light
through, a shout down the laneway.


Laura Ritland’s poems have appeared in The Fiddlehead, CNQ, The Walrus, Maisonneuve, Arc Poetry Magazine, and The Malahat Review. A recipient of the 2014 Malahat Far Horizons Award for Poetry, she currently divides her time between Vancouver and California, where she is a PhD student in English at UC Berkeley.


East and West, Laura Ritland’s astonishing debut, is a book of visions. These are roving poems drawn to defamiliarizing points of view, and are exquisitely attentive to the way the world exceeds our senses (“Cloud deduced cloud / after cloud and cloud.”) Beckoningly tender, lucid and intelligent, elegaic without being maudlin, East and West explores what Ritland calls the “middle ground” of childhood, family, diaspora, and migration, and how new cultural ideas can disrupt traditional perspectives. “My bedroom window an escape hatch / to endless sights of coastal stars.” Ritland takes the measure of herself—“I’m an integer of my own society”—in one of the most distinctive and beautifully turned styles in Canadian poetry.


Arriving right now! April 2018.

Launching April 25th in Toronto and April 27th in Montreal. Vancouver launch in May (details TBA)!


Purchase from the Véhicule Press website or at your local bookstore. $17.95.


Disrupting traditional perspectives.

The copyrights of all poems included in the series remain with their authors, and are reprinted with the permission of the publishers.

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